The British Museum, London, UK

The British Museum opened its doors to the public in January 1759. The origins of the Museum lie in the will of Sir Hans  Sloane (1660-1753), a physician, naturalist and collector, who wished for his collection of more than 71,000 objects, library and herbarium to be preserved intact after his death. An Act of Parliament establishing the British Museum received the royal assent in June 1753. The foundation collections mostly consisted of books, manuscripts and natural history with some  antiquities and ethnography. King George II donated the "Old Royal library" of the sovereigns of England (nowadays housed in the British Library in London) in 1757.
The department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan holds objects from every stage of the long history of the area, ranging from about 4500 BC to the later 14th century AD. The collection forms one of the most comprehensive and magnificent collections in the world, surpassed only by the Egyptian museum in Cairo. The majority of the objects in the collection were purchased. The earliest and most important is the first collection of the British Consul-General Henry Salt, purchased in 1823. The earlier collection representing Egypt consisted of the objects acquired by the British nation following the defeat of the French fleet at Abukir in 1802. A substantial part of the collection arises from scientific excavation, which began in Egypt shortly after 1881. Many objects come from a variety of donations. The collections of the British Museum contain many objects from Deir el-Medina, comprising mainly of inscribed objects.
The photographs are published with the kind permission of Dr. Richard Parkinson from the British Museum's Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, and the British Museum's Photographic officer.
Objects originating from the location of Deir el-Medina displayed in the past or still on display in the public galleries of the British Museum:
Stela dedicated to "the Osiris, the able spirit of Ra"
19th dynasty, about 1295-1186 BC
British Museum EA 359
From Deir el-Medina
Painted limestone
The seated persons - Pennub and Khamuy - who are described as "able spirits of Ra" sit on their chairs facing each other holding lotus flowers in their hands.
One of the forms, deceased ancestors were commemorate through, were small stelae. These were usually round-topped or pointed. Some of them bore the figures of deceased individuals, identified as revered ancestors by the epithet Akh-iker-en-Re, "the able spirit of Ra". The akh-spirits were the blessed dead, those who had attained a seat in the sun-bark of the god Ra. Their magical powers protected them from the dangers of the afterlife. They could also use them for or against the dead and the living. To become an akh (plural akhu) one had to know the magic spells, perform funerary rites and have the gods, especially Ra, intervene on one's behalf.
Over 50 stelae from Deir el-Medina testify to the existence of household cults devoted to deceased relatives who had become akhu (Lesko,1994,112). The spirits could be dangerous if offended, and the offerings to the akhu were both propitiatory and reverential.
Stela depicting a deceased person
British Museum EA 372
19th dynasty, about 1295-1186 BC
From Deir el-Medina
Painted limestone
Pennub and Khamuy, who are described as "able spirits of Ra".
Stela of Penbuy
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty
British museum EA 1466
This round-topped stela consists of two registers with representations in shallow sunk relief accompanied by inscribed hieroglyphic texts. In the upper register Ptah, the god associated with craftsmen, is seated on his throne inside a shrine on the left. To his right lies an altar heaped with food offerings. Behind the shrine there are four ears and another three ears are shown above it.
In the lower register the guardian of the tomb Penbuy kneels on the right with his arms raised in an attitude of worship. On the left a large ka-sign is depicted. A text, often columns of varying length, contains a prayer to the ka of Ptah by Penbuy.
This stela is very well preserved apart from some damage to the lower left edge, and most of the colour is intact. The background is yellow and the border shows traces of blue.
The hieroglyphs are painted black and the lines between the columns are red. The hands and face of Ptah are green, his cap is blue, and his body is white. His beard and the outline of his eye are black, and his collars are yellow edged in red. The shrine is yellow edged in red with blue dots. The ears are black, blue and red.
The food offerings are painted in a variety of colours. The human figure and the ka-sign are red, and Penbuy's wig and features are black. His collars are blue and green, while his skirt is white with red pleats.
Height: 38.5 cm
Width: 27 cm
Wenenkhu's stela
British Museum EA 1248
Probably from Deir el-Medina
The stela is showing Wenenkhu and Penpakhenty worshipping the sun god. The sun god is represented as
a falcon-headed mummiform figure, seated in the solar barque.
Height: 35.3 cm
Width: 23.5 cm
Amennakht, son of Ipuy, was "Scribe of the Royal Tomb" from 1168 BC for thirty years. He was the copyist of legal and administrative texts from Deir el-Medina, including the will of Naunakhte, the widow of Khenherkhepshef. He seems to be the author of five surviving poems, including a lyrical poem about the neighbouring city of Thebes.
Hieratic ostrakon
British Museum EA 41541
From Deir el-Medina
20th dynasty, about 1160 BC
This poem is a rare example of a literary work by a known individual. It was probably circulated among the village literati as well as being used as a copying exercise for Amennakht's apprentices. Red points mark the ends of lines of verse.
"Beginning of the educational instruction, saying for the path of life, made by the scribe Amen-nakhte (for) his assistance Hor-Min. He says: You are a man who listens to words so as to separate good from bad; Pay attention and hear my words, do not disregard what I say!"
(Translation from McDowell,1999,139)
Height: 20.5 cm
Lenght: 16 cm
Acquired in 1905.
Amennakhte's votive stela
British Museum EA 374
20th dynasty, about 1160 BC
From Deir el-Medina
The stela records Amennakhte's prayer to the local goddess, Meretseger, to remove an affliction "Praises for your spirit, Meretseger, Mistress of the West, by the scribe of the Place of Truth (st-maat), Amennakhte true-of-voice; he says: 'Be praised in peace, O Lady of the West, Mistress who turns herself to grace! You made me see darkness in the day I shall
declare Your power to other people. Be gracious to me in your grace!'"

(Translation from the Museum label)
Height: 20.6 cm
Width: 14.3 cm
Ostrakon bearing an attendance record of workmen
British Museum EA 5634
From Deir el-Medina
19th Dynasty, year 40 of Ramesses II, about 1239 BC
Black and red ink
This large ostrakon bears hieratic writing on both sides. At the top of the first side the date is given as "year 40". As the handwriting was determined to be of the Ramesside Period, this must refer to the fortieth year of Ramesses II's reign, about 1239 BC. From the contents it is clear that the list is a summary of workmen's absences from their duties. 280 days of that year are registered. Only about 70 of these days seem to have been full working days. Aside from holidays and other non-working periods, by Year 40 of Ramesses's reign the royal tomb would have been mostly finished, and it is possible that men were taken off onto other projects, for example, to the tombs of queens in the Valley of the Queens.
A list of forty names is arranged in columns of hieratic script on the right-hand part of each side. To the left there are dates written in black in a horizontal line. The reasons for absences are written above the dates in red ink. They are varied and give us a fascinating insight into some aspects of life in ancient Egypt. Illness figures prominently; a couple of examples of illnesses of the eyes are mentioned. There is another example of a man absent after being stung by a scorpion. One workman functioned as a doctor and was often away attending on others. Absences due to deaths of relatives are recorded, as are also references to purification rituals surrounding childbirth. A workman was absent bandaging (less likely mummifying) his colleague Hormose. Frequently a day missed is down to a man 'being with his boss'; other sources show that workmen did frequently do work for their superiors. Occasionally a man is away 'building his house', or at 'his festival', and there are examples of drinking, in particular 'drinking with Khonsu'. There is mention of a Khenherkhepshef, who is also alluded to as 'the scribe' in several places. Many of these persons mentioned here are known from other documents of this period.
It is thought that on a day-to-day basis the scribes of the tomb would write daily notes on small flakes of stones and then compile more formal accounts for the administrative records, the result of which would have been this large ostrakon (Strudwick,2006,206).
Height: 38.5 cm
Width: 33 cm
The complete translation of the ostrakon can be found here
Shabti of Kenherkhepshef
British Museum EA 33940
From Deir el-Medina
Shabti figures of the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) were often made of stone, with paint used to give the servant figures a lifelike appearance. This shabti is a particularly fine example. The heavy wig, with gold bands at the ends, rests over an elaborate and colourful collar. The red-brown colour of the face indicates that the figure is male. Ancient Egyptian women were usually depicted with paler skin, implying that they did not have to go out and work in the harsh sunlight.
The white colour on the shabti's arms and lower body shows that the figure is mummified, identifying it with the god Osiris, who is also shown with his arms crossed over his chest. While the god holds the crook and flail symbolizing kingship, this shabti holds two hoes, symbolising agricultural labour.
Shabti figures were intended to work on behalf of the deceased
in the Afterlife. A spell was supposed to activate them. Here the shabti spell is skilfully painted in horizontal lines of black
hieroglyphs around the figure. The hieroglyphic text begins with Kenherkhepshef's name and title, 'Scribe in the Place of Truth' (the royal necropolis).
Height: 29.3 cm
Width: 8.7 cm
Depth: 5.3 cm
Kenherkhepshef lived at the village of Deir el-Medina, and was the official scribe of the tomb beginning at least in year 40 of Ramesses II and continuing down to year 1 of Siptah (around years 1239-1193 BC). It is now generally accepted that he was an adoptive son of scribe Ramose and his wife Mutemwia, who adopted him as an orphan or as a pupil to succeed Ramose in his job (Davies,1996,103). Kenherkhepshef's job was to keep the attendance register of the workers who were employed in the
construction of the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. His comfortable seat, by the workmen's rest huts on the pass between the village and the valley, can still be seen. It is inscribed with his name to prevent anyone else from using it. Surviving documents show that Kenherkhepshef used men of the workforce to do private work for him during official hours. He tried to use his office to get the workmen to do the work without payment. He was also accused of bribery on two occasions.
Kenherkhepshef inhabited the largest, most centrally placed hut in the settlement at the top of the cliffs. Unlike the other huts, it had three rooms. Each room was paved with slabs of limestone. It could have been used as Kenherkhepshef's office, where he handled the records of the work at the royal tomb and wrote his letters to the officers of the administration.
Considerable doubt continues about the location of his tomb. Tomb no 1126 situated in the southern end of the cemetery in Deir el-Medina. A double seated statue of Kenherkhepshef and his wife was discovered in the chapel flanking the doorway leading into the inner room.
Headrest of Kenherkhepshef
British Museum EA 63783
From Deir el-Medina
19th Dynasty, around 1225 BC
The limestone funerary headrest is decorated with figures of Bes. The god's terrifying appearance and the snakes and a spear that he is waving were intended to drive away night demons.
Height: 18.8 cm
Width: 23 cm
Depth: 9.7 cm
Behind the headrest in the photo on the left the photograph shows the front of the papyrus described below.
Papyrus giving a list of dreams and their interpretations
British Museum EA 10683, Papyrus
Chester Beatty 3
From Deir el-Medina
19th Dynasty, around 1275 BC
The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians. This hieratic papyrus probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC). On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins with a line: 'if a man sees himself in a dream'; each horizontal line describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis 'good' or 'bad', then followed by the interpretation of the dream. For example, 'if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry'. Or, 'if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife'. The text first lists good dreams, and then bad ones. The word 'bad' is always written in red, which was considered the colour of ill omen. The papyrus had several owners before it was deposited in the Deir el-Medina's necropolis. It cannot be established
who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Kenherkhepshef.
On the other side of the papyrus, the scribe copied a poem about the Battle of Kadesh, which took place in the reign of
Ramesses II (about 1285 BC). The Dream Book passed to Khaemamen, Kenherkhepshef's wife's second husband, and then to his son Amennakht (both added their name to the papyrus).
The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which
passed down through the family for more than a century. It was discovered sometime in early 20th century most probably within the Western cemetery, but the exact spot find or the place of Kenherkhepshef's tomb, have both been lost ever since.
Height: 34.50 cm
Gift of Mrs. Chester Beatty
Hieratic papyrus
British Museum EA 10731
19th dynasty, about 1200 BC
From Deir el-Medina
A charm written in Khenherkhepshef's distinctive cursive hand. The sheet was folded and worn suspended around the
neck. The text is a spell against a demon called Sehaqeq whose eyes are in his head, whose tongue is in his buttocks.
Fragments of papyrus
British Museum EA 10016.2.
Ramesside Period, 1295-1069 BC.
Probably from Deir el-Medina.
Height: 8.3 cm
Width: 52.8 cm
Fragments of a painted satirical papyrus show comic representations of a range of animals mirroring behaviour of common people. The usual roles of humans in their everyday life are turned upside down. This particular portion of the papyrus pictured above is not very well preserved and it is not known whether the fragments are mounted in their original order (Houlihan,2001,66).
From the right a hippopotamus assisted by another animal is brewing beer in a large pottery vat. Next to them a lady mouse is being tended to by a pair of servants - a mouse and a cat. She sits on a chair holding a big flower. In front of her a table full of offerings is positioned. Behind the mouse servant there is a lion seated on a chair either sieving flour of brewing beer (Houlihan,2001,67). Next to him a cat and another animal are carrying a large basket hanging from a pole they carry on their shoulders. On the left side of the papyrus, a missing animal was holding a crook or a sickle, perhaps performing agricultural activities together with the beast in front of it.
Comic erotic scene
British Museum EA 50714.
Ramesside Period, 1295-1069 BC.
Possibly from Deir el-Medina
Black ink
This ostrakon is difficult to interpret as it is in a fragmentary state. The figure depicted on the right is male and is engaged in sexual intercourse with the figure on the left, who is probably a woman, but could also be a male. The male is penetrating her from behind, (s)he is bending and turning her/his head towards him. The caption in front of them records their speech, but is also incomplete: "Calm is the desire of my skin!"
This kind of drawing, portraying ancient Egyptian erotic activities, appears only in unofficial sources - on papyri, figured ostraka and graffiti. Rather than attempting to interpret them as glimpses of sexual behaviour and daily life
practices, Patrick Houlihan explains them as clearly satirical
in intent (Houlihan,2001,124,130-131).
Hieratic ostrakon
British Museum EA 5633
20th dynasty, around 1100 BC
From Deir el-Medina
Black ink with several red lines
Fragment of a limestone ostrakon with the text on both recto (18 lines) and verso (16 lines) containing a record of goods purchased by a lady Webkhet.
The recto text is written within red lines.
Aprentice scribe's copy of Kemyt
Ramesside Period, 1295-1069 BC
Possibly from Deir el-Medina
British Museum EA 5640
The work named Kemyt (The Compendium), an Egyptian word meaning "what completes, completion", or "what is completed", is mentioned in the 12th dynasty's (circa 1950 BC) The Satire of Trades, so it must be older than that, suggesting Kemyt was a standard text in the 12th dynasty. The greetings in Kemyt, found at the beginning of a letter it contains, are characteristic of formal letters dated to the 11th dynasty (circa 2000 BC), where the origin can be derived.
The surviving copies are written in vertical columns divided by spacing lines, in red paint, rather than in horizontal lines written from right to left, which was the norm during the New Kingdom (James,2003,147-148). The appearance of the signs used is old fashioned, characteristic of early Middle Kingdom period. Why have more ostraka with portions of Kemyt survived than those bearing parts of any other literary text? There might be several reasons for that: the text of Kemyt is not particularly interesting (it is a model letter), so perhaps it was in its simplicity and in its lack of difficulties for the young scribe that it could have been used for scribal beginners.
It could have been used as the first reader from which the student learned to handle the hieratic script both in reading and writing. Thanks to its standard formulae and expressions the exercise was easy to learn and hard to forget making the work ideal for instructional purposes.
The signs on this limestone ostrakon are rather clumsily written. The opening greeting, known to thousands of ancient schoolboys, reads:  
Your state is like living a million times!
May Montu lord of Thebes act for you,
Even as this servant desires!
May Ptah South of his Wall sweeten
your heart with (life), very (much)!

(translation from the museum label)
Anthropoid busts

77 examples of anthropoid or ancestral busts have been revealed during excavations at Deir el-Medina, further 11 busts are attributed to the site by their owners or dealers or can be connected to Deir el-Medina on stylistic grounds, and 3 more busts that were in the Luxor and Cairo antiquities markets in 1934-1935 (probably originating from Bernard Bruyère's excavations) that are now lost (Keith,2011,8-9).
The busts generally do not bear inscriptions, only 5 bear signs. Typically small, they measure from 10 to 25 cm in height and are made of limestone or sandstone. We can assume that most were originally painted as remains of pigment on some are evident. The gender of the most of the busts is open to question (Janssen,2007,187).
The figures are referred to as 'ancestor busts'. It is thought that they were placed in the small shrine areas which seemed to form part of private homes, and played a part in the private devotions of the family. Five busts were found in houses at Deir el-Medina, where they could have been placed in wall niches in the first and second rooms. The wall niches are comparable in size, so this seems probable. Rather than representing anyone in particular, the busts anonymous nature suggests that they represent all the ancestors whom the family might wish to commemorate. Another theory is that they represent "the able spirit" of those, who had been authoritative in life, by inference, the older members of the community. In troubled times people turned to them for help, i.e. to a parent still remembered, not to an ancestor of long ago. Some of these must have been
older women.
Similar objects have been found at fourteen other sites from the central Delta to the Third Cataract. They were found in or near houses as well as in tombs and temples. Whether the context was domestic or religious we cannot be sure, but it is understood that for the worshiper the ancestor busts conjured up memories of a deceased relative.
Anthropoid bust
British Museum EA 61083
Said to be from Thebes, Egypt
19th or 20th Dynasty, 1300-1150 BC
Painted limestone
Features are carefully modelled, face, wig and wsh collar
(a "broad" collar, a form of necklace) are painted.
Height: 24.5 cm
Width: 15.5 cm
Thickness: 9 cm
Anthropoid bust
British Museum EA 73988
19th dynasty, 1295-1186 BC
Provenance unknown
Stela with inset anthropoid bust
British Museum EA 270
19th dynasty, about 1295-1186 BC
Probably from Deir el-Medina
This unique and unfortunately considerably damaged stela incorporates two miniature ancestral busts above a scene showing the dedicator worshiping another bust.
The busts shown in the upper part of the monument were once coated with a layer of plaster, most of which is now lost. Some colour remains to show the left bust's face was painted red while the face of the bust on the right was yellow. Blue and black can also be detected around the busts. The  background was painted yellow (Keith,2011,324).
The lower register was left unfinished. Vertical lines and preliminary sketches are visible, but the surface was not fully worked. The figures are not painted, but were probably intended to be. 5 or 6 columns of the text are mostly illegible.
Nicola Harrington suggests a portion of the inscription might read "...the revered one...of the Mistress of the House, Mut... ...justified" and concludes that the stele's purpose might have been to a woman's address to all ancestors rather than a specific individual (Keith,2011,325).
The cult of Amenhotep I

From the 18th dynasty onwards, the main focus of religious worship of the population of Deir el-Medina was the cult of Amenhotep I, particularly in the form of "Lord of the village", together with his mother Ahmose-Nefertari.
Jaroslav Černý pointed out, that at Deir el-Medina existed several forms of this cult corresponding to the statues, each of which had a particular name, housed in the various sanctuaries established there (Černý,1927,182).
Amenhotep I Djeserkare (1525-1504 BC) was the second pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. He was probably still very young when he came to the throne, so it is likely that his mother, queen Ahmose-Nefertari (c.1570-1505 BC) served as regent for the first part of his reign. They are jointly credited with the foundation of Deir el-Medina, where they consequently enjoyed personal religious cults until the late Ramesside Period.
Apart from the modest temple dedicated primarily to the couple, they were secondary honourands in the chapels of other gods as well.
The deified king had many feasts during the year at which his statue was carried in procession by the wab priests. These activities were acts of piety towards the divinised mother and son and were consistently and exclusively performed by the workmen of the village (Ventura 1986, p. 63). The feasts were fairly regular events and were usually part of religious festivals connected with the cult. One festival involved the carrying of Amenhotep I's statue into the Valley of the Kings, another may have been associated with the anniversary of his death. The deified king was called upon to resolve disputes, particularly the ones involving properties. In these oracles, the image of the god, Amenhotep I, responded positively or negatively to questions put to him. Since the priests of this particular cult came from the workmen themselves, the response would be some form of consensus between the priests who were carrying the divine image. The god's oracular pronouncements, however they were made, had great weight, and his processions were a high point in Deir el-Medina's life.  
The textual and representational evidence associated with their cult at Deir el-Medina may be seen in cult statues, votive stelae, libation basins, paintings and inscriptions in tombs and on ostraka. More than fifty of the Theban tombs of private individuals include inscriptions mentioning Ahmose-Nefertari's name.
Below are samples of representations of the deified couple. They originate from Deir el-Medina and are now parts of the British museum collection.
Fragments of wall painting from the tomb of Kynebu:
the deified ruler Amenhotep I (left)
British Museum EA 37993
20th dynasty, about 1129-1126 BC
Painted plaster
Height: 44 cm
the deified Queen Ahmose-Nefertari (right)
British Museum EA 37994
20th dynasty, about 1129-1126 BC
Painted plaster
Neferabu  was a worker from Deir el-Medina, active in the necropolis at some point during the first half of the 19th dynasty. His activity can definitely be pinned down to years 36 and 40 of Ramesses II. Neferabu's title was "The servant in the Place of Truth". The stele below may have come from his tomb TT5 or perhaps from one of the shrines at Deir el-Medina. The relief shows the sons and relations of the deceased and the draftsman Pabaki, the draftsman Pashedu and the scribe Ipu, carrying assorted funerary goods to place in his tomb. These include various boxes and stools.
The tomb of Neferabu (TT5) offers an excellent platform on which we can try to construct his family tree. Neferabu was apparently the son of "The servant in the Place of Truth" Nefferonpet and Mahi. Despite the fact that Amenmose is referred to as the "father" of Neferabu in TT5, it can be shown that he was in fact the father of Neferabu's wife Ta-Isis (or Isis).

There are a number of other stelae and objects fromthis tomb in the British Museum.
The stela below is in good but incomplete condition. In literature it is always cited together with stele 150 (as BM 150+1754). Published by Kitchen in Rammesside Inscriptions, Vol 3, p. 774, Part of 154. Also published in The BM hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae etc., edited by T. G. H. James, Part 9: Plate XXX
Registration number: 1931,0613.11
Fragment of a stele of Neferabu
19th dynasty
From Deir el-Medina
British Museum EA 1754
Acquired in Luxor
Height: 17.5 centimetres
Length: 52 centimetres
Location: Gallery 63/11
Tjaroy, the great-grand-son of Amennakhte, was "Scribe  of the Royal Tomb" from 1091 BC. During his lifetime the villagers moved to the temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu. Tjaroy is known from his letters and had a reputation for jokes. He went on many state missions, including one to the south, accompanying army supplies. Many letters mention his anxieties for his family, including his son Butehamun, whose house survives.
Letter from Tjaroy
British Museum EA 10326
20th dynasty, 1071 BC
From Thebes
Tjaroy writes to his son Butehamun from Nubia - "the wilds where I am abandoned in this far-off land" - about various family matters. He reassures them that he is doing quite well "with my boss and he does not neglect me". He also answers his son's question about some documents which had been caught in a rain storm.
Letter from Tjaroy's son
British Museum EA 10284
20th dynasty, 1071 BC
From Thebes
In this letter Tjaroy's son Butehamun expresses his concern
for his father to the Priest of Hathor and
Troop-Commander Shedsuhor, who was with him on an
expedition to Nubia.

"Indeed you are good, and my father belongs to you. Be a
pilot for the Scribe of the (Royal) Tomb Tjaroy! You know he
is a man who has no courage(?) of his own at all, since he
has never before made such journeys as now. Help him in the
boat. Look after (him) with vigilance at evening as well,
while he is in your hands, since you are journeying [...]. Now
a man is wretched(?) when he has become troubled, when he
has never before seen the face of fear (i.e. of a crocodile).
Now your people are alive; no harm has come to them. I am
writing to let you know."
(Translation from accessed on
The remains of Butehamun's house inside the temple enclosure of Medinet Habu
Sarcophabus of Ankhnesneferibre
British Museum EA 32
26th dynasty, about 530 BC
From Thebes. Found by the French expedition in the rock tomb above Deir el-Medina in 1832.  
Ankhnesneferibre was the last "God's Wife of Amun" or "divine adoratrice of Amun" before the Persian conquest of 525 BC. She was a daughter of Psamtek II (595-589 BC). Although the sarcophagus was found in so called "tombs of Saite princesses" at Deir el-Medina, Ankhnesneferibre and several other women with the same title had tomb chapels at Medinet Habu, in front of the Ramesses III's temple.
The sarcophagus was reused in Roman times by Amenhotep Pamontu, a priest of the late Ptolemaic or early Roman period, whose brother Montuzaf was buried elsewhere in the necropolis. Amenhotep Pamontu added the inscription around the upper edge of the sarcophagus base. He also added his own name in the princess's cartouches and changed the pronouns in the text. The lid shows the princess clasping the royal crook and flail, symbolising her powerful position in Thebes. The office of divine adoratrice became a focus of power and influence during the Late period.
The inscriptions represent a variety of religious texts. They include parts from the Pyramid Texts, the Book of the Dead, several mythological texts, recitations from funeral rites, magical texts, a hymn to the sun, and hourly rituals for a vigil over the deceased, as well as offering formulas. The combination is unparalleled elsewhere.  
Length : 259 cm
The text on this page was compiled by Lenka Peacock using the sources listed below.
Photography by Lenka Peacock. All photographs © of the Trustees of the British Museum.
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Liverpool : University of Liverpool, February 1996.
13. Strudwick, Nigel and Helen: Thebes in Egypt : a guide to the tombs and temples of ancient Luxor
London : British Museum Press, 1999.
14. Weeks, Kent R.: The treasures of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings
Cercelli : White Star Publishers, 2005
15. Houlihan, Patrick F.: Wit & humour in ancient Egypt
London : The Rubicon Press, 2001.
16. Keith, Jean Lewis: Anthropoid Busts of Deir el Medineh and Other Sites and Collections : Analyses, Catalogue, Appendices / with contributions by Sylvie Donnat, Anna K. Stevens, Nicola Harrington
Le Caire : Institut Français d'Archéologie Orientale, 2011
17. Museum's website at
18. The British Museum's gallery labels
19. The British Museum's web site
The depositories, store rooms and papyrus rooms of the British Museum
On November the 19th 2005 the class of the Birkbeck College course "Real life at Deir el-Medineh" visited the British Museum
with Rosalind and Jac Janssen. Eleven objects originating from Deir el-Medina were waiting for us in the Ancient Egyptian
department's study area/library.
All the photographs on this page are © of Steve Bayley, a colleague on the course, and were
taken by kind permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.
The accompanying text is written by Lenka Peacock.
Stela of Paneb
19th dynasty, circa 1195 BC
Rectangular shape
Height: 19.3 cm
Width: 17 cm
In the top register : Paneb, a foreman of the tomb-workers, is depicted kneeling, worshiping the goddess Meretseger, who is in the form of a serpent. The coiled cobra is doubtless Meretseger, the goddess of the Theban necropolis.
The lower register : there are three kneeling male figures, Paneb's descendants. On the right there is Aapakhte, Paneb's son, together with his two sons - Paneb and Nebmehyt. Aapakhte was accused of crimes as an accomplice of his father.
Stela of Paneb
19th dynasty, circa 1195 BC
Height: 20 cm
Width: 13 cm
Top register : kneeling Paneb depicted worshiping Meretseger in the form of a cobra headed goddess in   shallow sunk relief. Meretseger is seated on the throne.
Lower register: Paneb's sons Aapakhte and Hadnakht are shown kneeling and worshiping.
Both registers are accompanied with simply incised text.
The top and bottom corners on the left side of the stela are chipped, but otherwise the stela is well preserved.
There are no traces of colour.
Stela of Aapakhte
19th dynasty, circa 1200 BC
Height: 21.2 cm
Width: 14 cm
Depth: 2.5 cm
Aapakhte was son of Paneb and a royal craftsman and a deputy
of the crew in the Place of Truth. He is shown adoring the god
Seth. The figures are both carved in sunk relief and are
accompanied by incised text. The writing of the text is erratic
as can be seen in the word ỉdnw and the reversal of the pḥty-
sign in the owner's name. The craftsman's name is a play on
the phrase aa-pehty meaning "great of strength", one of the
epithets of Seth. During Ramesside times Seth became a
patron of Egypt along with Amun, Ra and Ptah.
Jac Janssen suggested it was likely the stela came from the
rock shrine of Ptah and Meretseger judging by the limestone
and the saw-cut bottom edge.
Stela of Khamaul
19th dynasty
The stela depicts the deceased Khamaul seated. His left hand is outstretched towards an offering table piled with food. He holds an object in his right hand, possibly an ankh sign.
Khamaul is identified here as the 3h ikr n R'. the term by which these stelae are known today. It can be translated as "the able spirit of Re" or "the one who is continually effective to/for/on behalf of Re". Khamaul represents the divinized private ancestor to whom petitions could be made by the living. Most of the stelae were originally painted. We could see some remains of red pigment left on the stela.
Height: 19 cm
Width: 13 cm
Stela of Pabaki
19th dynasty
Height: 38 cm (case)
Width: 29 cm (case)
This large 3h ikr nR' stela of Pabaki depicts the deceased seated in front of an offering table. He holds a lotus in his left hand. In the lunette at the top there is a depiction of a deity seated in a sacred barque.
Stela of Nefersenut
19th dynasty
Nefersenut was the biological father of Paneb. He is depicted in the top register kneeling with a brazier containing an offering before the goddess Hathor, who sits on the throne.
The lower register shows three kneeling figures. On the left there is Nefersenut's eldest son Paneb, who was to rise to the post of foreman of the workmen, next to him his son Aapakhte, and on the right there is the son of Paneb's daughter, Paneb's grandson.
Four generations of Paneb's family are depicted here.
A letter from Kenna to the god Amenhotep
Hieratic ostrakon O.BM5625
Clearly dated ostrakon, well-written in horizontal lines
Contains a letter, where Kenna complains that Merysakhme wanted to share the chapel that Kenna has rebuilt.  

Year 4 (of Ramesses IV), IV 3ht (inundation) 30.

This day, the workman Kenna, the son of Siwadjit,
reported to King Amenhotep, the Lord of the Village,
saying: “Come to me, my good Lord. It was I who
rebuilt the chapel of the workman Pakharu when it
was collapsed.
And look, the workman Merysakhme, the son of
Menna, does not let me sit in it, saying:
‘It is the god who told me to share it with you’.
So he said, although he had not built it together with

[At the bottom of the recto and at the top of the
verso (actually the same side of the sherd] something
is lost]
verso  “…… give the chapel back to
Kenna, its owner.
It is his, by order of Pharaoh, and
nobody shall share it with him”. So
said the god, in the
presence of: [the 2 foremen, the
scribe, the bearers of the god,
and the entire gang], at the
entrance of the tomb of Kaha.

[Merysakhme had to swear that he
accepted the verdict]
A receipt for an ox
Hieratic ostrakon O. BM 5649
Recto: Listo of goods delivered in return for an ox, showing value in deben with clearly marked numbers.
An ox represented a substantial investment.
Verso: Summary of various values "w makes y deben".

Jac Janssen pointed out that texts without dates can sometimes be assigned approximate dates by studying the style of the writing and the language uses. The names of any known workmen mentioned in text can be used as clues.
Given in exchange for the ox, which Amenmose brought:

5 smooth ghalabiyehs,         makes 25 deben copper
1 smooth sheet,                     makes 10 deben
1 bed with matting,              makes 25 deben
1 bed,                                      makes 12 deben
1 hin (=½ litre) honey,       makes 4 deben
15 hin oil,                              makes 10 deben
5 deben of scrap copper      
1 wooden coffin,                 makes 20 deben
1½ khar of grain,               makes 8 deben

Given to him by Amenkha‘u:  5 deben
Given to him:                  1 pair of sandals
Given to his daughter:        1 mat and 10
loaves                        (this is for the 5 deben)
Given to him:                  1 pot of beans

Vs.                             Total 119 deben of
copper       (correct!)
Translation from Janssen, Jac: Commodity prices from the Ramessid period : an economic study of the village of  necropolis workmen at Thebes
Ostrakon of Khnummose
Painted limestone
Black and red ink
Height: 16.5 cm
Width: 20.2 cm
Figured ostrakon showing the workman Khnummose worshipping the serpent form of the goddess Meretseger.
Jac Janssen suggested that this ostrakon had been used as a stela and that the work was not finished.
The verso shows several different inventory references, indicating the object has been in several different collections.
Papyrus Salt 124 (verso)
EA 10055
Late 19th dynasty, c. 1200 BC
From Deir el-Medina
The papyrus contains the petition of the workman Amennakhte denouncing the crimes of the foreman Paneb.
Amennakhte felt that he himself should have been chief workman and that Paneb had taken the job from under him by bribing the vizier. His aim was to have Paneb dismissed on the grounds that he was unworthy and incompetent. The charges he lists here vary from criminal offences to evidence of bad character.

The list of charges starts with claiming that he bribed the vizier with 5 servants to gain his appointment.
a) He was charged with stealing ‘the cover of a chariot’ from the tomb of Seti II.
b) Charges relating to goings-on with married women or women who were living with other men. Hel was one of the women mentioned. Herysunnebef, husband of Hel, was the other adopted son of Neferhotep, and he later divorced Hel, as we know from another source.
c) Stealing stones from the tomb of Seti II for use in his own tomb and using the workmen to work in it (but maybe this wasn’t so bad as other people also used the workmen).
d) The row with Neferhotep, which resulted in Paneb being punished by the vizier. Paneb appealed to pharaoh himself and had the vizier sacked. Paneb evidently was in favour with the right people!
e) He stole the bed from the tomb of a colleague on which the dead workman was lying.
f) He stole a large spike and hid it behind a big stone when a search was made for it.

Other charges include sitting on the king’s sarcophagus when the king was in it, drinking and urinating. He also stole a model of a gilded goose from the tomb of Henutmire who was a wife of Ramesses II and daughter of Seti I. The goose was found in his house, and it may have been with this crime that Paneb went too far.

How far are all these charges reliable?  Some of them are not uncommon, but Paneb may have overdone things with the number and variety of his misdeeds. The alleged bribery of the vizier may in fact have been a gift, which Paneb gave in thanks after the event.
Hieratic papyrus
EA10416 (verso)
Ramesside Period
Former Salt collection
Height: 23.5 cm
Width: 22 cm
11 lines on the recto and 13 lines on the verso Jac Janssen suggested the grey colour of the sheet indicated a palimpsest ( a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped or washed off and which was used again).
In the commentary to his translation, Janssen summarises the text: A married man, very probably Nesamenope, had an adulterous relationship for 8 full months with an unnamed woman, incensing the friends and relations of his legal wife.
They blamed the woman and threatened to beat her up as well as her people, but were restrained by a steward. In a message the steward sent to the woman he expresses his doubts as to the reasons for her behaviour and urges the man to go to court with his own wife, evidently in order to get a "legal" divorce - whatever that meant in those days - then he might live on with his lover if he chose. If, however, he neglects this advice, the steward washes his hands of him and will not again try to restrain
the people when they seek out the woman (Janssen,1991,32).
The text of this chapter on the page was composed by Lenka Peacock.
Photography © The Trustees of the British Museum.
The photographs were taken by Steve Bayley 2005.
1. Shaw, Ian, Nicholson, Paul: British Museum dictionary of ancient Egypt
London: British Museum Press, 1995.
2. Janssen, Rosalind and Janssen, Jac. J.: Growing up and getting old in ancient Egypt
London : Golden House Publications, 2007.
3. McDowell, A.G.: Village life in ancient Egypt : laundry lists and love songs
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1999.
4. Pharaoh's workers : the villagers of Deir el-Medina / edited by Leonard H. Lesko
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994.
5. Les artistes de Pharaon : Deir el-Médineh et la Vallée des Rois : Paris, musée du Louvre, 15 avril - 5 aout 2002
Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2002.
6. Bierbrier, Morris : The tomb-builders of the pharaohs
Cairo : The American University in Cairo Press, 1982.
7. Janssen, Jac. J.: Late Ramesside letters and communications
London : British Museum Press, 1991. (Hieratic papyri in the British Museum VI, 1991).
Visit to the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum
On March the 3rd 2010 I joined the class of the Birkbeck College course "Real life at Deir el-Medineh" (taught by Rosalind Janssen). We visited the library of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan at the British Museum with Rosalind and Jac Janssen. Rosalind's module is all about the minutiae of daily life in a New Kingdom settlement. It aims to increase our understanding of the social life of the Ancient Egyptians, as revealed by archaeology and texts, and to foster an awareness that real life was similar to – yet different from – our own. Marriage, adultery and divorce, the roles of the village doctor, the wise woman and the scorpion charmer, punishing crime, worshipping the ancestors, earning a living, going to parties, doing the laundry - are the topics of the classes. On Wednesday ten objects originating from Deir el-Medina were awaiting us in the Ancient Egyptian department's study area/library. All the photographs on this page were taken by Lenka Peacock by kind
permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.
Ancestor bust of Muteminet
EA 1198
Possibly from tomb 373 at Thebes
19th dynasty
Height: 51 cm
Width: 26 cm
Thickness: 29 cm
Date of acquisition: 1897
This finely carved bust is incised with three columns of hieroglyphic text. The main text bears a dedication to the sistrum-player of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, called Muteminet (Mwt-m-int). The back of the bust is roughly
finished. The bust has been severely damaged at the base and its back with much loss of the stone surface. There are a few gouges on the body and its face. Traces of black ink are left in the hieroglyph in the central column of the text.
A parallel bust of Pendjerti, husband of Muteminet, was discovered in the tomb of their son Amenmose, no. 373 at Thebes. There is little doubt that this bust was one of a pair from that tomb. The royal scribe Amenmose is attested on several monuments and flourished in the reign of Rameses II (L. Habachi in 'Studies in Honor of George R. Hughes' (Chicago, 1976), 83-103.
From Deir el-Medina
Ramesside (late 19th dynasty)
Height: 12.5 cm
Width: 15 cm
Thickness: 4.5 cm
on one side (convex) only, seven lines of an incomplete text concerning payment made by Amenemope to the carpenter Meryre for a bed.
Text: J. Černy and A.H. Gardiner, ‘Hieratic Ostraca’ (Oxford 1957), pl. 5644.3
Stela of Nefersenut
From Deir el-Medina
19th dynasty
Nefersenut was the biological father of Paneb.
Top register: the goddessHathor sits onthe throne and holds was sceptre in her left hand. She wears a crown of
uraei, consisting of 24 cobras.
Nefersenut is depicted in the top register kneeling with
a brazier containing an offering before the seated Hathor.
The lower register shows three kneeling figures. On the left there is Nefersenut's eldest son Paneb, who was to rise to the post of foreman of the workmen, next to him his son Aapakhte, and on the right there is the son of Paneb's
daughter, Paneb's grandson. Four generations of Paneb's family are depicted here.
After discussing all the objects prepared for us in the  Library, we went to see several objects exhibited in the public galleries of the British Museum. First we went to the Nebamun's gallery to see the objects used by the workmen form Deir el-Medina:
Top: Rectangular smoother with integrated handle
EA 5986
It is carved from one piece of wood. Such tools were used for smoothing plaster, for example in painted tomb chapels, or on the surface of mud brick house walls.
Height: 5.8 cm
Width: 4.3 cm
Length: 17.2 cm
Middle: EA 6045
Bronze chisel with a wooden handle and copper alloy blade. The blade flares out at the cutting edge.
Length: 25.4 cm
Bottom: EA 15740
Bronze chisel, square-sectioned at one end, and tapering to a cutting edge.
Length: 12.7 cm
Palm fibre brushes
EA 5555.1-3
The brushes are bound with strings and cut at either end.
Length: 13 cm ; Diameter: 1.9 cm
Originally purchased from Henry Salt
Paint brush
EA 36893
Paint-brush formed from sticks bound together and frayed at one end; stained with red paint.
Length: 28.2 cm
Paint brush
EA 36889
Paint-brush made from fine palm fibres, bound with strung fibres. The fibres have been cut at one end to create a brushing tip. Traces of red pigment are preserved on the brush end.
Length: 24.7 cm
Diameter: 2.8 cm
EA 36892
Fibre brush held together with bitumen at one end, and bound with cord.
Length: 21.5 cm
Scribal palette
EA 36825
18th dynasty
Length: 29.8 cm
The upper surface is cut with a row of 9 oval ink wells on the right of the palette. There are two longer and narrower ink wells in the left corner. These wells bear traces of the red, yellow and black pigments used by the owner. A column of inscription, set within a recess, starts with the title 'outline draughtsman (sesh-qed)', but the name of the individual has been erased (other than the male
determinative). Beneath the pen-slot, a horizontal inscription states 'the outline draughtsman, Min-nakht, true of voice'.
Beneath, in thick ink strokes, three signs are roughly drawn: a falcon head wearing a sun-disc and uraeus, and two examples of a disc and crescent.
The top left corner bears an incised inscription on the thickness of the palette, wrapped around the corner: 'Amun-Ra' and 'Ptah lord of Maat'.
Pigment samples
EA 5563, EA 5568-9
Small pieces of Egyptian pigments.
Egyptian blue was the principal pigment used for blue colour in Egyptian paintings and upon sculpted surfaces.
Ostrakon of a goose on her nest
EA 56706
Ink drawing on one side
19th or 20th dynasty
The drawing depicts a goose on her nest, with four eggs
shown beneath the bird. In the upper left corner are two very faint drawings of goslings in red. Possibly painted black over a red draft.
Width: 8.2 cm
Height: 6.5 cm
1. Shaw, Ian, Nicholson, Paul: British Museum dictionary of ancient Egypt
London: British Museum Press, 1995.
2. Janssen, Rosalind and Janssen, Jac. J.: Growing up and getting old in ancient Egypt
London : Golden House Publications, 2007.
3. McDowell, A.G.: Village life in ancient Egypt : laundry lists and love songs
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1999.
4. Pharaoh's workers : the villagers of Deir el-Medina / edited by Leonard H. Lesko
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1994.
5. Les artistes de Pharaon : Deir el-Médineh et la Vallée des Rois : Paris, musée du Louvre, 15 avril - 5 aout 2002
Paris : Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2002.
6. Bierbrier, Morris : The tomb-builders of the pharaohs
Cairo : The American University in Cairo Press, 1982.
7. The British Museum hieroglyphic texts from Egyptian stelae etc. Pt. 12 / edited by M. L. Bierbrier.
London : British Museum Press, 1993.